AIRPORT ’77 (1977, USA, 114m, PG) ***
Action, Drama, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures; pr co. Universal Pictures; d. Jerry Jameson; w. Michael Scheff, David Spector (based on a story by H.A.L. Craig and Charles Kuenstle and the novel “Airport” by Arthur Hailey); pr. William Frye; ph. Philip H. Lathrop (Technicolor | 2.35:1); m. John Cacavas; ed. Robert Watts, J. Terry Williams; pd. George C. Webb.
cast: Jack Lemmon (Don Gallagher), Lee Grant (Karen Wallace), Brenda Vaccaro (Eve Clayton), Joseph Cotten (Nicholas St. Downs III), Olivia de Havilland (Emily Livingston), Darren McGavin (Stan Buchek), Christopher Lee (Martin Wallace), Robert Foxworth (Chambers), Robert Hooks (Eddie), George Kennedy (Joe Patroni), James Stewart (Philip Stevens), Monte Markham (Banker), Kathleen Quinlan (Julie), Gil Gerard (Frank Powers), James Booth (Ralph Crawford), Monica Lewis (Anne), Maidie Norman (Dorothy), Pamela Bellwood (Lisa), Arlene Golonka (Mrs. Jane Stern), Tom Sullivan (Steve), M. Emmet Walsh (Dr. Williams), Michael Pataki (Wilson).
The second sequel to AIRPORT also takes its lead from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE as a botched mid-air hijack of multi-millionaire Stewart’s private 747, carrying a collection of priceless works of art, results in the plane crashing into the sea. As the stricken airliner sinks, its passengers and crew, led by pilot Lemmon, are faced with a nightmare fight for survival. Despite the far-fetched nature of its premise, the film manages to deliver a decent number of thrills. The game cast help to sell the scenario, with Lemmon and McGavin delivering convincing performances. The film does have the usual array of stock characters and their domestic baggage, but the action takes centre stage once the plane hits the water and Jameson keeps the tension high through to the finale. Network TV version added additional footage, including deleted scenes and newly shot footage, and runs 182m. Followed by THE CONCORDE… AIRPORT ’79 (1979).
AAN: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (George C. Webb, Mickey S. Michaels); Best Costume Design (Edith Head, Burton Miller).
BANDOLERO! (USA, 1968) ***
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox; Release Date: 1 June 1968 (USA), 2 August 1968 (UK); Filming Dates: 2 October–early or mid December 1967; Running Time: 106m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG-13/15.
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen; Writer: James Lee Barrett (based on the unpublished short story “Mace” by Stanley Hough); Producer: Robert L. Jacks; Director of Photography: William H. Clothier; Music Composer: Jerry Goldsmith; Music Supervisor: Lionel Newman (uncredited); Film Editor: Folmar Blangsted; Art Director: Jack Martin Smith, Alfred Sweeney; Set Decorator: Chester Bayhi, Walter M. Scott; Make-up: Del Acevedo, Daniel C. Striepeke, Edith Lindon; Sound: David Dockendorf, Herman Lewis; Visual Effects: L.B. Abbott, Emil Kosa Jr.
Cast: James Stewart (Mace Bishop), Dean Martin (Dee Bishop), Raquel Welch (Maria Stoner), George Kennedy (Sheriff July Johnson), Andrew Prine (Deputy Sheriff Roscoe Bookbinder), Will Geer (Pop Chaney), Clint Ritchie (Babe Jenkins), Denver Pyle (Muncie Carter), Tom Heaton (Joe Chaney), Rudy Diaz (Angel), Sean McClory (Robbie O’Hare), Harry Carey Jr. (Cort Hayjack), Don ‘Red’ Barry (Jack Hawkins), Guy Raymond (Ossie Grimes), Perry Lopez (Frisco), Jock Mahoney (Stoner), Dub Taylor (Attendant), Big John Hamilton (Bank Customer), Robert Adler (Ross Harper), John Mitchum (Bath House Customer).
Synopsis: An outlaw rescues his brother from a hanging and is pursued by a sheriff to Mexico, where they join forces against a group of Mexican bandits.
Comment: Stewart poses as a hangman to rescue his brother Martin and his gang from a public execution. On their escape, they capture Welch, whose husband (Mahoney) was killed during a bank robbery led by Martin. Kennedy is the sheriff who leads a posse into Mexican bandit territory to rescue Welch and recapture Stewart and Martin. This Western is memorable for Stewart’s charm and Martin’s assured performance. The action is often violent and nasty, but the scenes are well-handled by McLaglen. The developing romance between Martin and Welch is subtly played if a little stilted, whilst Stewart has the best lines and is the most sympathetic character despite his outlaw status. Goldsmith supplies a memorable score and Clothier’s photography is crisp. A veteran support cast helps to make this an above-average genre film.
THE NAKED SPUR (USA, 1953) ****
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Release Date: 30 January 1953 (USA), 16 April 1953 (UK); Filming Dates: May 1952 – 30 June 1952; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Anthony Mann; Writer: Sam Rolfe, Harold Jack Bloom; Producer: William H. Wright; Director of Photography: William C. Mellor; Music Composer: Bronislau Kaper; Film Editor: George White; Art Director: Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons; Set Decorator: Edwin B. Willis; Make-up: William Tuttle.
Cast: James Stewart (Howard Kemp), Janet Leigh (Lina Patch), Robert Ryan (Ben Vandergroat), Ralph Meeker (Roy Anderson), Millard Mitchell (Jesse Tate).
Synopsis: A bounty hunter trying to bring a murderer to justice is forced to accept the help of two less-than-trustworthy strangers.
Comment: This excellent and tense Western is more a psychological drama. Stewart is a haunted bounty hunter who looks to bring in outlaw Ryan with the unwanted help of prospector Mitchell and dishonourably discharged cavalryman Meeker. Leigh is Ryan’s companion – the misfit daughter of a dead outlaw. Along the long journey through beautiful Colorado locations, Ryan begins to play his captors off against each other, whilst Stewart slowly falls for Leigh. Mann handles the material expertly and the performances are excellent – notably Stewart as the self-tortured hero and Ryan as the manipulative villain. Great score by Kaper heightens the tension and sumptuous photography from Mellor.
THE FAR COUNTRY (USA, 1954) ***½
Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), General Film Distributors (GFD) (UK); Production Company: Universal International Pictures (UI); Release Date: 22 July 1954 (UK), 12 February 1955 (USA); Filming Dates: 19 August–mid October 1953; Running Time: 97m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/2.00:1; BBFC Cert: U.
Director: Anthony Mann; Writer: Borden Chase; Producer: Aaron Rosenberg; Director of Photography: William H. Daniels; Music Composer: Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner, Herman Stein (all uncredited); Music Supervisor: Joseph Gershenson; Film Editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen, Bernard Herzbrun; Set Decorator: Oliver Emert, Russell A. Gausman; Costumes: Jay A. Morley Jr.; Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: Leslie I. Carey, Robert Pritchard.
Cast: James Stewart (Jeff Webster), Ruth Roman (Ronda Castle), Corinne Calvet (Renee Vallon), Walter Brennan (Ben Tatum), John McIntire (Gannon), Jay C. Flippen (Rube), Harry Morgan (Ketchum), Steve Brodie (Ives), Connie Gilchrist (Hominy), Robert J. Wilke (Madden), Chubby Johnson (Dusty), Royal Dano (Luke), Jack Elam (Frank Newberry), Kathleen Freeman (Grits), Connie Van (Molasses).
Synopsis: A self-minded adventurer locks horns with a crooked lawman while on a cattle drive.
Comment: Third Western collaboration between Stewart and Mann, again scripted by Chase, is unusual in that the setting is the gold prospecting mountains of Alaska (although filmed in Canada). The subtext of Stewart’s character’s struggle with the pull of his desire to fulfil his own personal vision against that of the needs of those who surround him is played out against a tonally shifting script. At times the move from light humour to violent action feels jarring, but this is seemingly part of Mann’s overall message that life is never what you plan it to be. The wonderful locations provide a stunning backdrop and the production is handsomely mounted conjuring up an authentic view of frontier life. The story ratchets up the tension in its final act, which resorts to the familiar showdown and redemption of the hero.
THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (USA, 1955) ***½
Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / William Goetz Productions; Release Date: 13 July 1955 (USA), August 1955 (UK); Filming Dates: 29 September–26 November 1954; Running Time: 104m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1; BBFC Cert: U.
Director: Anthony Mann; Writer: Philip Yordan, Frank Burt (based on the novel by Thomas T. Flynn); Producer: William Goetz; Director of Photography: Charles Lang; Music Composer: George Duning; Film Editor: William A. Lyon; Art Director: Cary Odell; Make-up: Clay Campbell; Sound: George Cooper.
Cast: James Stewart (Will Lockhart), Arthur Kennedy (Vic Hansbro), Donald Crisp (Alec Waggoman), Cathy O’Donnell (Barbara Waggoman), Alex Nicol (Dave Waggoman), Aline MacMahon (Kate Canaday), Wallace Ford (Charley O’Leary), Jack Elam (Chris Boldt), John War Eagle (Frank Darrah), James Millican (Tom Quigby), Gregg Barton (Fritz), Boyd Stockman (Spud Oxton), Frank DeKova (Padre).
Synopsis: A stranger defies the local cattle baron and his sadistic son by working for one of his oldest rivals.
Comment: Fifth and final Western collaboration between director Mann and start Stewart. It is another psychological tale with Stewart seeking revenge on the gun-runners who traded rifles to the Apaches who killed his brother. Stewart gets involved in a range war between Crisp and MacMahon in the process. Lively actions scenes and strong dramatic moments occasionally bring overwrought performances from less experienced members of the cast, but Stewart and Kennedy deliver the goods. Believed to be the first Western shot in cinemascope and Lang’s photography captures the New Mexican vistas admirably.
Notes: The theme song was written by Lester Lee and Ned Washington and was recorded in the United States by Al Martino and in the United Kingdom by Jimmy Young.
BEND OF THE RIVER (USA, 1952) ****
Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Universal International Pictures (UI); Release Date: 23 January 1952 (USA), 13 March 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 July–13 September 1951; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Anthony Mann; Writer: Borden Chase (based on the novel “Bend of the Snake” by William Gulick); Producer: Aaron Rosenberg; Associate Producer: Frank Cleaver; Director of Photography: Irving Glassberg; Music Composer: Hans J. Salter; Film Editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; Casting Director: Phil Benjamin (uncredited); Art Director: Bernard Herzbrun, Nathan Juran; Set Decorator: Oliver Emert, Russell A. Gausman; Costumes: Rosemary Odell; Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: Leslie I. Carey, Joe Lapis.
Cast: James Stewart (Glyn McLyntock), Arthur Kennedy (Emerson Cole), Julie Adams (Laura Baile), Rock Hudson (Trey Wilson), Jay C. Flippen (Jeremy Baile), Lori Nelson (Marjie Baile), Chubby Johnson (Cap’n Mello), Stepin Fetchit (Adam), Harry Morgan (Shorty), Howard Petrie (Tom Hendricks), Frances Bavier (Mrs. Prentiss), Jack Lambert (Red), Royal Dano (Long Tom), Frank Chase (Wasco), Cliff Lyons (Willie), Frank Ferguson (Tom Grundy).
Synopsis: When a town boss confiscates homesteader’s supplies after gold is discovered nearby, a tough cowboy risks his life to try and get it to them.
Comment: James Stewart and director Anthony Mann team up for the second of five westerns they made together. The relatively simple tale is built around the complex characters of two former gunfighters (Stewart and Kennedy) attempting to distance themselves from their past as they fall in with a group of settlers led by Flippen. Adams plays Flippen’s daughter who is initially attracted to the more volatile Kennedy. Mann directs with a strong feel for the material and the characters and gets the best from his actors. The unforgiving landscapes and the glorious scenery are well captured by Glassberg’s cinematography. The story has a strong conclusion as Stewart and Kennedy go up against each other, demonstrating the different paths they have chosen. An early role for Hudson as a charming gambler.
Notes: Original UK title: WHERE THE RIVER BENDS.
Shootist, The (1976; USA; Technicolor; 100m) ****½ d. Don Siegel; w. Miles Hood Swarthout, Scott Hale; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Elmer Bernstein. Cast: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Bill McKinney, Rick Lenz, Sheree North, Gregg Palmer, Alfred Dennis, Dick Winslow. A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity. Wayne’s last film is a poignant and fitting tribute to his screen persona and one of his very best. Siegel directs with sensitivity and draws an astonishing final performance from his star. Wayne is supported by a superbly talented cast of veterans including Bacall and Stewart. Echoes of SHANE can be seen in Howard’s hero-worshipping youth. The 1901 setting, with its early automobiles, telephones and electricity, acts as a metaphor for the passing of an era where the west was ruled by the gun and Wayne’s gunfighter character is now an anachronism. Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout. [PG]
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962; USA; B&W; 123m) ****½ d. John Ford; w. James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Cyril J. Mockridge. Cast: John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Strother Martin, Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine, Jeanette Nolan, John Carradine, John Qualen, Ken Murray, Willis Bouchey, Carleton Young, Woody Strode, Denver Pyle. A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed. Ford’s last great Western is dominated by three strong central performances. Wayne represents the old-west values, whilst Stewart stands for the civilisation of law and order. Marvin’s outlaw stands in the middle as the evil which must be dealt with. Meanwhile, Miles must decide whether her heart lies with Wayne or Stewart. Rich in detail with a strong script and boisterous performances from a quality supporting cast and sumptuously shot in black and white by veteran cinematographer Clothier. In 2007, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Based on the story by Dorothy M. Johnson. [U]
Call Northside 777 (1948; USA; B&W; 112m) ***½ d. Henry Hathaway; w. Jerome Cady, Jay Dratler, Leonard Hoffman, Quentin Reynolds; ph. Joseph MacDonald; m. Alfred Newman. Cast: James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker, E.G. Marshall, Kasia Orzazewski, Betty Garde, Moroni Olsen, John McIntire, Paul Harvey, Joanne De Bergh, Howard Smith, Michael Chapin, Samuel S. Hinds, George Pembroke. Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten-year-old murder case. Documentary-style telling is a little stiff at times and the story is certainly slow to start but it gains significant momentum in its final act. Stewart is as dependable as ever as the hard-nosed reporter and Garde stands out in an interesting supporting cast. The photography is evocative in the film noir style of the day, with contrasting light and shadow making this a technically effective, if dramatically uneven, piece of film-making. First credited film role of McIntire. Based on articles by James P. McGuire. [U]
Shenandoah (1965; USA; Technicolor; 105m) ∗∗∗∗ d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Lee Barrett; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Frank Skinner. Cast: James Stewart, Rosemary Forsyth, Doug McClure, Katharine Ross, George Kennedy, Patrick Wayne, Strother Martin, Glenn Corbett, Philip Alford, Charles Robinson, Denver Pyle, Charles Robinson, Gene Jackson, Tim McIntire, Jim McMullan. A farmer in Shenandoah, Virginia and finds himself (and his family) in the middle of the Civil War. First-rate story of a family’s struggles to come to terms with the war raging around them. Stewart is superb as the head of the family spirited into action when his youngest son is taken prisoner. Whilst it is occasionally over-sentimental and the ending is a little too convenient, it is still a thoroughly entertaining and effective movie that will melt the stoniest of hearts. Ross’ film debut. The movie was turned into the stage musical under the same title in 1975 starring John Cullum. [PG]